MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. Day is one federal holiday in America that invites us immigrants to this great nation to introspect on something so profound I do not know if we have had a conscious effort to think about it before we chose to uproot ourselves from the Motherland and start a new life in this adoptive country.

Why did you choose to immigrate to America? What about it enticed you to start a new chapter of your life here, given so many other choices? What was the “promise” of America that just spoke to your heart and gave you that courage and faith that this great nation could be your new home?

What did you think was is America ‘s heart and soul and how did that converge with your own values and dreams?

Amid the contentious debate now dividing this nation especially since President Donald Trump took office, allow me to share with you what stood out and spoke to my heart and soul about the true heart and soul of America exchanged online during the weekend and feel free to share your own thoughts:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

(Inscription on the symbol of America’s immigrant heritage – the Statue of Liberty, as watched over New York Harbor since 1886, and on her base is a tablet inscribed with words penned by Emma Lazarus in 1883)

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

(from the Declaration of Independence which was adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776)

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

“Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.“

(Gettysburg Address is a speech that U.S. President Abraham Lincoln delivered during the American Civil War at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on the afternoon of Thursday, November 19, 1863, four and a half months after the Union armies defeated those of the Confederacy at the Battle of Gettysburg.)

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character….”

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed – we hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal….”

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ‘tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

(Civil Rights Leader Dr. Martin Luther King Junior, “I Have a Dream” speech during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963, in which he called for civil and economic rights and an end to racism in the United States.)

“America, we know, is composed of diverse community. We have different languages, different skills, different talents, and different religion. But when our way of life is threatened, like the freedom and liberty that we all cherish, we come together as one. And when we come together as one, we are invincible. We cannot be defeated. That’s why we need this national Navajo Code Talker Museum so that our children, the future generation, can go through that museum and learn why America is so strong.”

(Peter MacDonald who served in World War II as a Navajo code talker, made introductory remarks at a White House Oval Office event honoring the Native American who were recruited into the U.S. Marine Corps to transmit secret tactical messages, in front of Press. Donald Trump)

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Gel Santos Relos is the anchor of TFC’s “Balitang America.” Views and opinions expressed by the author in this column are solely those of the author and not of Asian Journal and ABS-CBN-TFC. For comments, go to,

Gel Santos Relos
Gel Santos Relos

Gel Santos Relos is the anchor of TFC’s “Balitang America.” Views and opinions expressed by the author in this column are solely those of the author and not of Asian Journal and ABS-CBN-TFC. For comments, go to and

1 Comment
  1. I was brought along by my mother, who was immigrating to America with my two brothers and a sister (half-siblings) to join my step-father in California in the early 60s. As a seventeen-year old Filipino provinciano, I asked to be left behind but my step-father wanted to adopt me and bring me to America. (When other Filipinos now see my last name, I get asked, “Adopted?”)

    My ‘dad’ has shown me how the early Filipinos survived in America and evolved to be called the old-timers. I also picked grapes in Delano and experienced the first farmworkers strike in ’65. I joined the service and served in Vietnam. I managed to become almost successful. And the rest of my Filipino friends now call me ‘Manong.’ I have aged in America.

    Why America for the rest? Although we all went through the immigrants way of life, what with the hardships and discrimination and prejudice, there is now something that divides us in Trumpism politics. We have brotherhood among us when we hear our friends say, “I’m going home,” if only for a short visit. Now, Facebook reveals how we really feel about our politics. And I begin to thinking that we Filipinos have arrived and assimilated and branched out to differing ways of life, whether we are liked or not, by our own. Why America then?

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